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Tips & Advice

Political Interest

Outside of the Graham Chapel on the beautiful WashU campus, stood crowds of high school students, all with one thing in common: they were all Model UN nerds. Last weekend was the annual Washington University Model UN Symposium, fondly referred to as WUMUNS, one of many Model UN conferences held at schools nationally. MUN is an engaging way to learn about international relations and government, concepts closely connected to service. In fact, the opening speaker of the conference was Professor Amanda Moore McBride, Director of WashU’s Gephardt Institute of Public Service. I was lucky enough to attend WUMUNS, and here are some things I can pass along:

  • The best way to learn about politics is to participate in it. Simply put, we learn by doing. If engaging yourself in politics means reading the paper, then by all means do so. But if you’re just not getting it, or want to engage yourself on a deeper level, find out if your school has a MUN team, or start one! I also find debate educational on these topics. Meet with your local representative about an issue you care about. What better way to understand something than actively partaking in it?

  • It may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry about it. At every beginning, there will be confusion. At my first conference, I had no idea what I was doing, and was so worried about messing up or making a bad point. Whether it’s Model UN or a service project, it’s not worth getting worked up on. Being in a new situation makes you vulnerable, but embrace that. It’s a good thing; you can learn a lot from it.

  • There’s definitely an overlap between fun and responsibility. I never would have expected to enjoy WUMUNS as much as I did; world affairs don’t really connote amusement. But it’s a great time: meeting new people, learning, independence, working on things you care about. But this isn’t limited to MUN: if a service project seems like work, then change something. Fun can be implemented so easily with a little creativity! Have snacks before you take your group down to the soup kitchen, or play a game with the kids you tutor!

In close, I strongly encourage participating in MUN (really any form of learning about politics). Being informed can only help you to stay an engaged person.